Physicians prescribed insight meditation medication for burnout & stress relief

posted Sep 26, 2009, 9:31 PM by ash ‎(evermindful)‎   [ updated Sep 26, 2009, 9:36 PM ]
Today Kathleen Blanchard RN published an article on a research study conducted at the University of Rochester Medical Center. The research led by Michael S. Krasner, M.D., concludes that meditation could increase well-being among physicians who experience high levels of psychological stress, and at the same time facilitate patient centred care.

The research identifies high levels of reported burnout among physicians which have resulted in poor quality of care, inability to remain empathetic, substance abuse, automobile accidents, marital problems and poor health for the physician.

Whilst I am no physician, I too have experienced these same conditions. I would argue that anybody that is passionate about their field, goal driven and that works excessive hours to progress towards their goal will suffer the same fate.

So how does one get them selves out of this rut? Well there are clearly many solutions to a given problem. The solution that I employed was Insight Meditation (aka Vipassana or Mindfulness Meditation). This is the same meditation practice that the 70 physicians employed as part of their training regime.

Meditation is about developing the mind. The goal of meditation is to know, shape and free the mind. Through Insight Meditation we cultivate relaxation, concentration and awareness. Through repeated practice we cultivate mindfulness.

The Insight Meditation practice has a well defined structure, attitude & process to follow. Developing the right attitude is perhaps the most under-emphasised aspect of the practice. Dr Krasner suggests that stress and burnout can be reduced by having physicians communicate during clinical encounters “without judgement but with a sense of curiosity and adventure”. What Krasner is describing here is right attitude. “Don’t judge” is the same as accept everything. However, there are many more attitudes that are critical for a good Insight Meditation practice. These attitudes include: Expect nothing, Enjoy yourself, Pace yourself, Accept yourself, Let go, Be gentle, Investigate yourself, Experience everything and Note similarities. During the meditation session we exercise these attitudes as we experience the defilements in the mind. Outside the meditation practice (ie. in everyday life), we exercise these attitudes towards others via mindfulness.

Note, sitting there and knowing the mind through the Insight Meditation practice is not the goal. Meditation practice is just laboratory work. Mindfulness takes the lessons from the practice into the field (ie. everyday life). Insight Meditation leads to mindfulness. Mindfulness leads to shaping and eventually freeing the mind via each and every mind moment.

Please direct all comments to the guided meditation instruction blog.

1. Mindful meditation could curb physician burnout